An estimated 7.5 million Americans are affected by the chronic condition of psoriasis. Flare-ups of psoriasis may occur on any part of the body, and can have devastating emotional effects. Psoriasis stems from dysfunction within the immune system that causes the proliferation of skin cells. Because new skin cells form too quickly, skin becomes thick and a rash may occur.
More than a cosmetic problem, psoriasis may also be associated with serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and depression. Because there is a risk for secondary problems such as these, obtaining an accurate diagnosis from a board certified dermatologist is important.
Psoriasis may occur in one of five different forms:
- Plaque psoriasis, called psoriasis vulgaris, is what dermatologists most commonly treat. Eighty percent of the cases treated are plaque psoriasis, which looks like patches of raised, inflamed skin covered in silver scales. Psoriasis vulgaris typically develops on the knees, lower back, elbows, and scalp. A common trigger for this type of psoriasis is stress.
- Psoriasis that begins in childhood is guttate psoriasis. This form of the condition may develop after the use of certain medications, injury, stress, tonsillitis, upper respiratory infection, or strep throat. Guttate psoriasis may appear suddenly on areas such as the torso, legs, or arms, looking like small red spots.
- Inverse psoriasis affects the folds of skin, such as those at the buttocks and groin, below the breasts, or in the underarms. The shiny lesions in this type of psoriasis can be irritated by sweat.
- Pustular psoriasis is a type that may appear on the hands and feet, or all over the body. Triggered by infection, pregnancy, sunburn, or certain medications, pustular psoriasis may involve reddened skin and blisters.
- The most inflammatory form of psoriasis is erythrodermic psoriasis. This condition may affect large areas of skin, causing intense redness and excessive shedding of large sheets of skin. This type of psoriasis requires prompt medical treatment because it can cause wide fluctuations in body temperature, itching, pain, and increased heart rate. Untreated, erythrodermic psoriasis carries the risk of pneumonia, fluid and protein loss, and congestive heart failure.
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Psoriasis is a condition for which there is no known cure. With an accurate diagnosis, however, your experienced dermatologist can help you effectively manage psoriasis for improved comfort and confidence. The intent of psoriasis treatments is to facilitate the normal production of cell turnover.
Gaining control over psoriasis can change your life. To obtain treatment designed around your needs, contact Washington Dermatology Consultants in Arlington or Stafford.